Wide BaseThe base of the Christmas tree stand is what keeps the tree from tipping over. Weight helps, but it is really width that keeps the tree upright. An 18-inch diameter is minimum, but wider is better.
If you are in the habit of getting exceptionally large trees you should use the 1/3rd rule. The diameter of the base should be at least 1/3rd the diameter of the tree from branch tip to branch tip.
Elevated Resting PointThe base of the Christmas tree stand should have some pins, spikes or something similar that keeps the base of the Christmas tree off of the stand. By elevating the tree, you allow room for water to flow into the open pores of the tree keeping it healthier.
The Christmas tree should be elevated at least half an inch.
4-point ContactThe base should have four bolts or other restraining mechanisms. Four bolts makes it easier to adjust the Christmas tree vertically. The bolts work in a pair to rotate the tree along one axis.
If there are only three bolts then when you are trying to straighten the tree you are always adjusting it on two-axis, making it more difficult to get it vertical.
Big HandlesThe bolts, or containment devices, should have a large handle that makes it easier to turn. The bigger the better, but look for something that gives you the leverage you need to turn the bolt with the weight of the tree on it.
Big Bolt PadsPads, or some kind of flat surface on the inside ends of the bolts, are a necessity. Without a large surface area, the bolt will cut into the tree, so when you go to straighten it or tighten it down, you will actually drill a hole into the Christmas tree instead of securing it.
Quick-Release Thread MechanismThis is a great feature to have, but not necessary. A mechanism that lets you slide the bolt quickly into position makes things so efficient. Once in place the mechanism is disengaged and you thread the bolt as normal.
Half-Gallon ReservoirYou want a stand that is large enough to hold the Christmas tree trunk and at least a half a gallon of water. Otherwise, you will have to water the tree more than once a day.
If your stand is too small, or you do not want to water every day, you can always use a Christmas tree watering system.